Treatment of Italian-Americans in WW II Probed

The Justice Department is prying into one of the darker, nearly forgotten episodes in United States history: the mistreatment of hundreds of thousands of Italian-Americans during World War II.

Under a law passed by Congress last November, the Department of Justice is attempting to document the treatment of approximately 600,000 people of Italian ancestry, including those who were classified as enemy aliens from 1941 until Italy surrendered in 1943. The review covers the period Sept. 1, 1939, to Dec. 31, 1945.

Some of the people affected were arrested, many had their homes raided, thousands lived under curfews and some were kept in internment camps similar to those that held Japanese-Americans — who've been paid reparations for their mistreatment during the war.

"The story of the treatment of Italian-Americans during World War II needs to be told, to remember those whose freedoms were violated and to prevent such injustice in the future," said William Yoemans, the acting assistant attorney general for the civil rights who announced the review today in Washington.

The report is due in Congress by Nov. 7.